Cycle Chicago, Sightseeing Ride, Fox River Trail
This fabulous bike ride comes with lots of beautiful scenery, green spaces, shopping opportunities and small-town charm. Visit Geneva, St. Charles and Batavia, where you’ll find quaint stores, cafes, ice-cream vendors, museums, old fashioned restaurants and several bike shops. This ride is also dripping in history. For example, just off the path at 333 S. Jefferson in Batavia is Bellevue Place, the former sanatorium where Mary Todd Lincoln was confined for four months. In addition, you’ll see an old Dutch Windmill and a Japanese Garden.
Well-maintained paved trail with stretches of bumpy paths and sidewalks.
You’ll cross big highways, negotiate small-town streets and sail along smooth open trails, mostly the latter.
Take Metra’s Union Pacific West Line to Geneva. Bike north on Third Street and east on State Street. Cross the river and turn left into the Old Mill Island Park on the northwest corner of State and Water streets.
By car, exit Interstate 88 at Highway 59 going north. After 3.5 miles, bear left on Joliet Street. After one mile, turn left on Roosevelt Road, which becomes State Street. After five miles turn right just before the river on Water Street. Three hour parking, except Sundays/ holidays. If that’s not enough, look for parking on side streets or in town.
Food and Drink
In between long green stretches, there are many food and drink options, from water to ice-cream.
A few of the many possibilities: Fabyan Villa Museum, Mill Race Inn for a nice meal; and the Good Templar Park, home of a Viking ship that crossed the Atlantic for the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.
Some cyclists call the Fox River Trail Chicagoland’s best pedal. The trail is paved, the scenery impressive and the attractions, well, attractive. Other cyclists, however, complain that the trail can be hard to follow. True, it’s broken up by a few small towns and crosses the river several times, which can be confusing. But if you hug one side of the river or the other, you could miss some of the best parts of the trail, such as the incredibly dense and rich forest preserve on the eastern side between Batavia and North Aurora.
This serene stretch of shaded path includes the Red Oak Nature Center with hiking trails, an observation deck, a restored prairie and an interpretive boardwalk. So follow the Ride Log and you won’t get lost or miss the highlights. Another one of those highlights is the Old Dutch Windmill that was built in the 1870s in what is now part of Lombard and moved to its present location in the mid-1910s. It was almost demolished in the 1990s; instead it was refurbished and is now protected by its status on the National Registry of Historic Places.
Long may it reside at the top of the sledding hill at the Fabyan Forest Preserve. Nearby the windmill is the must-see Fabyan Japanese Gardens on the grounds of the Fabyan Villa, which was home to George and Nelle Fabyan from 1905 to 1939. The lavish estate featured fountains, gardens, greenhouses, swimming pools and even a private zoo. Today you can tour the windmill, and the villa houses a museum that will introduce you to this fascinating and generous couple, who gave (or sold at a big discount) the community much of their property and colorful possessions.
Of course, the river itself is picturesque and relaxing, especially when viewed from one of the many bridges that cross over it. This is a very popular area on summer weekends. If you start early you could do a century ride along the Fox River Trail and the many paths with which it intersects. Or you could regale yourself in the history, culture and natural beauty of just a small section of this interesting waterway and splendid greenbelt. Either way, you’ll want to come back for more.
38.631 km / 24.004 mi
131 m / 429 ft
131 m / 430 ft
214 m / 702 ft